XXVII World Day of the Sick: Be the Salt of the Earth

By Verghese Joseph –

Kolkata: Invoking Saint Teresa of Kolkata, Holy Father Pope Francis’ special envoy to XXVII World Day of the Sick , His Eminence Patrick Cardinal D’Rozario of Bangladesh, said the purpose of faith was to assuage the sufferings of the sick, poor, the neglected through physical and spiritual nourishment.

Delivering the presidential address on the theme, ‘Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give’ at Xavier’s College auditorium on Saturday, Cardinal D’Rozario highlighted the challenges before the Christian community and urged them to show love for the poor and suffering through acts of mercy, which the Saint of Kolkata showed to the world through her loving care.

Quoting Pope Francis, the Cardinal said,” Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, of those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… “

In his message, Cardinal said the Holy Father recalled the words spoken by Jesus when sending forth his apostles to spread the Gospel, so that his Kingdom might grow through acts of gratuitous love. “You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8).

His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson form Ghana, Perfect of Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said, “We are called to continue the mission of Jesus and we should be seen in the midst of poor, weak and the sick.”

Cardinal Turkson recalled that at the recent Wolrd Economic Forum at Davos, the church made its presence there on the aspect of love, care and drawing the attention to the poor and marginalized. “We should not make the less fortunate feel abandoned.

Sister Mary Prema Pierick, the current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, India, spoke of Mother Teresa’s infinite love for the sick and poor. Sr. Prema said how Mother Teresa tended o the wounded, bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavour to her work; it was the ‘light’ that shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering. Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor”.

Dr. Shashi Panja, Miniter of State for Women & Child Development and Social Welfare said that she was touched by the work that the church was doing in the service of poor and sick. She said language units but above all, the service to the poor unites everyone.

She was thankful that the city of Kolkata was chosen for this prestigious event and said it was indeed a matter of honour to have both Cardinals to grace the occasion. She said the city would be celebrating Saraswati Pooja which is a celebration of learning and this learning should turn to serving the poor.

The conference sessions dwelt on “Theological Foundations of Healing Ministry,” “New Charter for Healthcare Workers, Ministry to the Marginalised Sick: New Frontiers and Models,” followed by solemn mass.

Rev. Dr. Joy Kakkanattu, CMI in his biblical and historical perspective said that we should obey God rather than man and that we should hear the cry of poor and afflicted. He drew parallels emphasized that Jesus commanded his followers to heal the sick. He alluded that Salvation and Healing were integrally related and considered as whole. Jesus not only cured physical ailments but also restored dignity too, he stressed.

Cardinal Turkson reflected ‘Theology on Accompaniment and the Call to Witness the Mercy of God dwelt on the aspect of God is the healer and that he speaks to us in scriptures so that we understand act as God agent to eliminate pain and suffering. He also alluded that true power is service to the sick and needy.

H.E. Msgr. Prakash Mallavarapu, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam, Chairman, CBCI Office for Health Care. Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu spoke on the Response of the Church to this Call in Today’s Context. He said despite the severe challenges that they face the healing ministry ploughs on and strives to meet expectations.

The next session presented an overview of the New Charter for Healthcare workers. An introductory presentation was made by Rev. Fr. Chrisopher M Mahar on integral human healthcare and shared his personal experience.

Rev. Fr. Chris Vimalraj spoke on the ethical and religious directives for Catholic Healthcare services and directives being worked out for the benefit of healthcare workers. The areas he dwelt were on Pastoral Care, Accompaniment of the sick, Sanctity of life and spiritual accompaniment.


Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Vadakkumthala shared his views on the way forward on sharing the fullness of life, commitment to compassion and care, adhere to moral teaching, safety of patients and safe environment. He also shared the example of Mother Teresa on selfless love.

There was also an interactive session on the Minitry of Marinalised Sick: New Frontiers and Models moderated by Fr. George Kannanthanam, Director, The Project Vision HOPE, where organisations such as Missionaries of Charity, Friends and Birds of the Air, Sanman Society, Kripa Foundation, Sneha Care Home and others showcased their initiatives that have had far reaching positive impact on the society.

The day ended with a solemn mass offered by His Excellency Archbishop of Calcutta, Most Rev. Thomas D’Souza, at the tomb of St Teresa of Kolkata at Mother House.